It’s baseball season once again and this year, The Show is virtually unchallenged by any other baseball game with the hiatus from MLB 2K. As we’ve all seen many times before, especially with sports games, not having a competing game can have a negative effect on the remaining one. Will MLB 14: The Show hit one out of the park or did SCE San Diego mail this one in?The MLB The Show series has been a solid baseball simulator since the very first iteration on the PlayStation 3. SCE San Diego have done a good job over the years at making small refinements and accentuating the positives of their yearly series without adding too many senseless things or taking away anything important which is rare with sports games in general. This year’s edition is the first baseball game to appear on the PlayStation 4 and it doesn’t disappoint even though it feels very similar to its predecessors.
Putting the game disc in for the first time, players will be met with a rather lengthy installation. It doesn’t seem like the installation takes very long at first until you actually try and play a game and realize the ballparks and other textures and modes are installing in the background rendering it impossible to do anything for a good hour or so. While this is a one time issue, it definitely seems like a long time to wait to play a game. The menu is once again easily accessible and all on one page to make getting into a game a painless process. The only problem with getting into a game is the fact that that load times are incredibly long and really make you question whether the game is frozen the first few times.
Graphically, the 2014 edition of The Show is easily far superior to anything I’ve seen before in a baseball game. The ballparks have all received some great visual upgrades that make them far more realistic than they’ve ever been. The fans are varied instead of seeing similar ones every few feet along with being every bit as animated as they’ve always been. Dust remains on jerseys and pops up on tough plays at the base looking more lifelike than ever before. The core improvements to the game are truly in the visuals and it’s very apparent through every detail. They really went all out to make this one of the better looking sports games out there.
The gameplay remains nearly identical to the 2013 version which is actually a good thing considering how fluid the mechanics were behind that version. Pulse pitching has been retained and has actually grown a lot on me since the last iteration. The animations never look choppy or glitchy, everything flows nicely. SCE San Diego has done a masterful job making sure that the gameplay is well-tuned every year which has seemingly given them more time to focus on the little things that really make this baseball sim the best one out there.
Road to the Show is once again a go to mode with a bit of a different beginning. You can now take your player through a prospect showcase for three games to improve your draft position. Of course for those who aren’t into that, you can throw yourself on any team you’d like to be on right away. In addition to that, you have the brand new community challenges which sees players create scenarios and post them online for other players to attempt, it’s not unlike things seen in NBA Live 14. Franchise Mode finally goes online letting you play that mode with your friends. Unfortunately, long load times and lag limit the fun.
Cross-Play with the PlayStation Vita has been added so that you can take your home experience on the road with you which is a welcome feature for such a deep game. Quick-Counts has also been added to speed up games considerably if you’re under time constraints. It’s not a huge favourite of mine, but I can see its usefulness by starting every at-bat on a deep-count. It will definitely help those who don’t have the time to go through entire games. It must be activated before you start a game, unfortunately. No features are lost coming over from the PlayStation 3, but sadly, no features are added in either. PS4 owners will be happy with crisp 1080p visuals and the gorgeous presentation. Beyond that, it’s business as usual for MLB 14.
MLB 14: The Show doesn’t add many new features, but improves upon the entire package which has made this the ONLY baseball simulator out there this year. I feel like they could have tried a few more things, but it’s a solid game that delivers the best baseball experience out there and that’s what a baseball fan is looking for.